In the old days, scientists classified animals by their physical shapes. Now they have a new tool to see how different animals are related to each other: DNA.
Tony Gamble, a newly-minted PhD from the University of Minnesota, and a colleague from Villanova University, sequenced DNA from 44 species of gecko and used the data to describe a new family tree.
Geckoes are a key indicator of biodiversity. Scientists are also beginning to copy their sticky toe pads, for uses in medicine and industry.
Gamble said his research shows those sticky feet evolved several different times.
"And by knowing more about how gecko feet have evolved, and the number of times that these different structures and characters have evolved, you can maybe get idea of how they're adapted to their structures that they live on and operate on, and that can influence the technology we're using," Gamble said.
The research will be published in the journal "Zoological Scripta: An International Journal of Systematic Zoology."